The NDIS is a project that will change the face of Australian society on a level never attempted before in history, Federal Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Dan Tehan told CEDA’s State of the Nation audience.
“A true world first, it is a project that will require an investment of $22 billion at full scheme in 2021, growing to $28.6 billion in 2025-26,” he said.
“In this year's budget the Turnbull government guaranteed funding for the NDIS.
“It will be funded, period, full stop, end of story.”
Mr Tehan said the NDIS marks a deliberate departure from a welfare-based model where the costs of providing disability support were viewed through a short to medium-term lens.
“Instead the NDIS takes an insurance approach which, by its very nature, is long-term,” he said.
“Each person's lifetime support needs are considered to ensure that they get the right supports and they get the supports when they are needed.
“It means that people receive supports early rather than waiting until they reach crisis point before getting help.”
Mr Tehan said the NDIS is a vehicle for profound economic development.
“By taking an investment approach the NDIS does not just benefit participants, it also reduces the cost of other government programs,” he said.
“Addressing participants needs early reduces the need for acute or crisis care and reduces the number of people needlessly in hospital because there is nowhere else for them to go.
“It is estimated that this could reduce costs on the health system by up to $300 million each year.
“The NDIS will also contribute to savings in other government programs which will help offset the increase in spending on the scheme.”
Mr Tehan said according to the Productivity Commission it will create one in five of the new jobs created over the next two to three years.
“The opportunities to leverage the scheme to boost Australia's workforce are immense, they fall into two categories,” he said.
“First, the scheme enables participants and their carers to more fully participate in all aspects of life, including work.
“Secondly, it is a huge employment generator in its own right, particularly for young entry-level workers.
“Projections are that the disability care workforce will need to grow by 60,000 to 90,000 full-time equivalent workers to deliver the extra supports provided by the NDIS.
“The additional work that is required to provide services to participants span all regions of Australia and include professional health and allied health services jobs.”
Mr Tehan said the NDIS also boosts businesses willing to provide services to participants.
“Some existing businesses are already ready for the opportunity to provide the services demanded by the NDIS, such as physiotherapists and providers of home-based aged care who already provide similar services to different customers,” he said.
“There are also businesses which are ready to diversify and provide innovative person-centered services.
“Numbers of providers continue to grow, there were 14,721 approved providers of services at the end of March, up 64 per cent since June 2017.
“There are also opportunities for businesses to provide assistive technology products to help improve the lives of people with a disability.”
Mr Tehan said the challenge for government is to ensure that costs do not blow out, but the prices are sufficient for services to be provided.
“While the long-term goal is price deregulation, during the early stages of the scheme prices are being controlled,” he said.
“This carries the risk that prices could be set too high with resulting fiscal implications or too low impacting on service delivery.
“To address the risk of errors there are regular reviews built into the system.
“There is currently a review being undertaken on how specialist disability accommodation pricing is determined.
“There is also scope for reviews to be undertaken when problems are arising.”
Mr Tehan said the NDIS is a ground-breaking piece of social policy.
“It will and is transforming the lives of people with disabilities across the country,” he said.
“It is also delivering profound economic change, creating new markets, new employment and new investment.
“It is the greatest nation-building project we will see in our lifetime.”